Report calls Pittsburgh top emerging life sciences cluster in U.S.

R&D employment, NIH funding to universities cited as top drivers in market undeterred by economic slowdown

Pittsburgh is the top emerging life sciences cluster in the United States, according to a new report from commercial real estate firm CBRE.

The Pittsburgh region, home to nationally recognized research universities, one of the nation’s largest integrated health systems, and a growing number of biotech startups, made the list based on the size and growth of its life sciences employment, concentration of research and development jobs, the amount and growth of life sciences venture capital funding, and National Institutes of Health funding.

According to CBRE’s U.S. Life Science Report 2020, investment in life sciences and growth of research and development jobs “is one reason why Pittsburgh and Houston have become up-and-coming markets.”

“The industry has displayed remarkable resilience to the economic downturn, with new sources of demand and a flood of venture capital to support various initiatives,” the report continues. “Across the various U.S. life sciences lab clusters, our data shows a market undeterred by disruption and, if anything, recharged for an intensified expansion.”

While ranked behind Boston, San Francisco, and San Diego – the top three regions in a separate ranking of established clusters – Pittsburgh holds its own when it comes to funding from the NIH. University of Pittsburgh was sixth in the nation with $546 million in NIH funding in 2019, according to the report.

UPMC Enterprises, the venture capital, innovation, and commercialization arm of UPMC, is working to ensure the scientific discoveries taking place at Pitt are translated into successful commercial ventures. Enterprises has committed to investing $1 billion in life sciences startup companies — both in Pittsburgh and across the United States — by 2024. And Enterprises already has formed and funded a half-dozen life sciences startups.

“We have significant talent, resources, and scientific expertise in Pittsburgh that UPMC is proud to help foster into greater economic prosperity for the region,” said Jeanne Cunicelli, Executive Vice President of UPMC Enterprises who will take over as president in January 2021. “We’ve known for a long time the tremendous assets available here and it’s wonderful to see it recognized nationally.”

Learn more about UPMC Enterprises’ Translational Sciences focus area.